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    HomeBusinessMonkeypox DNA reveals virus has been spreading in humans since atleast 2017:...

    Monkeypox DNA reveals virus has been spreading in humans since atleast 2017: Scientists

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    Reportedly, there are up to 47 DNA-letter changes in the latest viruses compared with these earlier cases which is an unexpectedly high number as the monkeypox is considered to evolve slowly.

    A Monkeypox DNA analysis report by Áine O’Toole and Andrew Rambaut at the University of Edinburgh in the UK has revealed that the monkeypox virus variant responsible for the worldwide outbreak may have been circulating in people for years.

    “We therefore suggest that the pattern we see… means that there has been sustained human to human transmission since at least 2017,” states an initial report by Áine O’Toole and Andrew Rambaut at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

    Emma Hodcroft at the University of Bern in Switzerland has stated that as monkeypox normally circulates in animals in some African countries and occasionally jumps to people there, the person-to-person spread is more likely to have gone unnoticed for years on that continent. As of 6 June, monkeypox infections have been confirmed in more than 900 people in 27 countries, including more than 200 in England. Most cases are in men who have sex with men.

    According to reports, the Genome sequencing data shows that the monkeypox viruses responsible for these cases are closely related to ones detected in a small number of cases in Israel, Nigeria, Singapore and the UK between 2017 and 2019.

    Reportedly, there are up to 47 DNA-letter changes in the latest viruses compared with these earlier cases which is an unexpectedly high number as the monkeypox is considered to evolve slowly. Surprisingly, 42 of these 47 changes involve the DNA letters TT changing to TA, or GA to AA. Moreover, there is a group of human enzymes called APOBEC3 that help defend against viruses by inducing mutations in their DNA, and these are the kinds of changes they produce.

    “If these APOBEC3 edits are specifically indicative of replication in humans as opposed to another host species then this would confirm this entire clade to be representative of the emergence of a human epidemic by 2017,” O’Toole and Rambaut stated in a 5 June update to their report.

    On 3 June, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that three of the 10 monkeypox viruses sequenced there were a bit different from others, while still related to the 2017 virus. These three viruses were found in people who had travelled to different countries in Africa and the Middle East in 2021 or 2022.

    Meanwhile, the three cases could be due to independent instances of the virus jumping from some animal reservoir into people. However, because they also have lots of APOBEC3-like mutations, another explanation is that monkeypox has been spreading quite widely in people in Africa since 2017.

    “The mutations we see in the virus today are certainly not ones that kill the virus or we wouldn’t be seeing them, the virus would be dead. But there may still be some that are dragging it down a little bit, that are adding to the mutational burden,” says Hodcroft.

    She also stated that the monkeypox cases so far may have been mild, this might not be true if the monkeypox virus starts infecting children or people who are immunocompromised.

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